Of Sitting at Campfires

It was a slightly chilled evening, not long after the company had left The Shire. The country surrounding them was green and full of rolling hills. Trees occasionally popped up and spread their limbs, and it was near one of these that they chose to make camp for the night. The ponies had been secured, packs had been slung to the ground, bedding had been laid out carefully, a cheerful fire had been started in the middle of the circle of beds, some largish rocks and logs had been dragged around the fire to be used as seats, and all seemed well.

"So who's going to cook?" Oin pipped up. And now that he had mentioned it everyone felt rather silly that they hadn't gotten 'round to deciding little schedules like that just yet. For that matter, they hadn't organized a watch yet. Nor had they decided who should feed and groom the ponies. It was truly amazing how little things like that could slip through the cracks when one was planning for a rather large scale adventure.

"Well," Bilbo spoke up, "I could cook tonight, if no one else minds that is." A little bit timid in his offer because he didn't really know them all that well yet.

Nori shifted uncomfortably at that and said "Well that would hardly be fair to you. You cooked for us last night, in your home. You shouldn't have to take two turns in a row."

"I don't mind, really." Bilbo assured him. "I'm not certain what else I could do and I would like to be of some use rather than tagging along like a sack of apples!"

"If that's your only concern than Bofur can cook and you can take one of the watches." suggested Gloin.

That apparently flawless solution was quickly argued by Fili. "No, that'll hardly work! There's fourteen of us, not counting Gandalf. And not that many hours in a night. We should have seven double watches so that everyone who has to be awake will have some company so they don't wind up bored stiff." He saw Balin looking like he wanted to interrupt so he forged ahead quickly. "That would also mean two people looking for possible threats and two people ready to wake us if something bad did happen." he finished breathlessly, and with no small sense of triumph.

After much discussion it was finally decided that Kili's idea really was the best one. This set off an equally complicated tiff about who would be paired with whom for the watches. Finally, Thorin was paired with Balin, Bifur was paired with Bofur, Dwalin was paired with Bombur (strongest with the slowest being the reasoning behind that), Fili and Kili were of course paired (subject to change if they were caught tying people into their blankets), Dori went with Nori, Oin was paired with Gloin, and Ori was paired with Bilbo.

The dwarves looked around triumphantly, to make sure they had Bilbo's approval on his watch partner, only to discover him sitting by the fire stirring a luscious looking stew. In response to their puzzled looks he stated "Well, you were arguing about the watch. And while it is all very well and good to get that settled it seemed that by the time a cook had been chosen supper time would have come and gone without any notice." he looked at them as if daring them to contradict him.

Once the meal had been eaten the dwarves expressed their deep appreciation. Upon standing to retreat to their bed rolls Dwalin found himself falling face first to the ground while Fili and Kili burst out laughing, Bilbo tried (and failed) to hide a smile, and the rest of the dwarves simply gaped. When the finally got the twine off of his boots it was decided that Fili, Kili, or Bilbo must have put it there in the first place since they had been the only ones to express amusement at his predicament. They all denied it emphatically and it was finally given up with a glare at them all and a stern warning not to do it again.

As they all returned to their beds Bilbo sighed contentedly. Maybe adventures weren't so bad after all.